I’m a good southern girl. Born in Mississippi (for real), raised in Georgia, and I’ve never lived above the Mason-Dixon Line
I was raised on good southern food: savory cornbread, fried okra, black-eyed peas, greens, etc.
One of the things that I wasn’t raised on (much to my embarrassment) was scratch-made biscuits.
Both my grandmother and my mother relied on a baking mix for their biscuits (and pancakes, waffles and other assorted breakfast goods).
How is it that I’m of good southern stock, and I had to teach myself how to make biscuits? Of all the things a good southern girl should know how to do, making biscuits ranks right up there.
It’s taken years, but I finally feel like I’ve found a recipe that yields they type of biscuit I consider to be a traditional southern-style biscuit. It’s crisp and flaky on the outside and soft and tender on the inside. The fat releases steam as it cooks and makes layers similar to puff pastry, and it has a rich buttery flavor. And it’s a rolled biscuit, not a drop biscuit.
As an aside, biscuit is now becoming one of those words that when I type it, it doesn’t look quite right. Biscuit, biscuit, biscuit.
Now, there’s a restaurant here in town that many people absolutely love, and they’re famous for their biscuits. The one thing on this particular restaurant’s menu that I don’t like just happens to be their biscuits. I love their grits, I love their crispy potatoes, and I especially like their black bean cakes. Their biscuits, though, are utterly dry and flavorless (despite the fact that they look like they should be light and fluffy and flaky). In my opionion, it’s actually more like a scone in texture and flavor than a biscuit.
You can tell I’ve given this a lot of thought.
I know many people will tell you that you need to use White Lily self-rising flour to make a decent southern biscuit, but I would argue that doing that is no better than using a baking mix. What is self-rising flour but baking mix without the shortening mixed in? I mean, did our grandmothers’ grandmothers use self-rising flour?
So, I use all-purpose flour (not even a soft winter wheat flour like White Lily, just plain old AP), and I mix in the baking powder and baking soda (that way you can always make sure your leavening ingredients are fresh) to order.
And I like to use either buttermilk or yogurt (or sometimes sour cream) as my liquid. The added acidity lends a nice tangy flavor to the mix, not to mention a little extra oomph in the rise.
Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits
prep time – 10 minutes
bake time – 20-30 minutes
serves – 8-10
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
- Preheat your oven to 450F
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl
- Using a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles course meal
- Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk all at once
- Use a fork to quickly stir the mixture together into a rough ball
- Turn it out onto a well floured surface and knead it 8-10 times, just to bring it together into a smooth ball
- Roll it out to a 1/2 inch thick disk
- Use a 3-inch round cookie cutter to cut out biscuits
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat and melt 1 tablespoon of shortening or butter. Swirl to evenly coat the bottom and sides of the pan
- Fit your biscuits into the hot skillet (this is where asbestos fingers really come in handy) – it will be snug (I can usually get 8 biscuits in one skillet). I usually will coat one side of the biscuit with some of the grease, and then flip it over to get the other side in the grease as well (this ensures a nice brown top on all your biscuits).
- Bake in a preheated oven for 20-30 minutes, or until they’re evenly browned and cooked through.
- Serve with sausage gravy (another recipe for another day) or slathered with even more butter and honey.
PS – There’s still time to vote in the 2nd round of Project Food Blog. You can read my entry and vote here. I also encourage you to take a look around at the other contestants’ entries – there are some truly creative and adventurous food bloggers out there!